Jimenez seeks to salvage Rockies' finale

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, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

The Arizona Diamondbacks are in position to record their first three-game series sweep of the season this afternoon. With Ubaldo Jimenez set to take the mound for the opposition, the chances of that happening don't appear overly promising, however.

Jimenez will attempt to add to his incredible numbers this season when he gets the call for the Colorado Rockies in this afternoon's showdown with the Diamondbacks from Chase Field.

Jimenez has unquestionably been baseball's most dominant pitcher over the first two months of this season. The hard-throwing Dominican's 10 victories leads the majors and he's recorded an unbelievable 0.78 earned run average over his first 11 starts, six of which he didn't allow a single run. In his lone defeat of 2010, the standout right-hander held the Los Angeles Dodgers to one run and two hits through seven innings but failed to receive any offensive support in what turned out to be a 2-0 Rockies' loss on May 9.

The Diamondbacks are well aware of Jimenez's talents, as he's already shut them down twice this season. The 26-year-old fired six scoreless innings to best Arizona at Coors Field on April 27, and later scattered six hits over eight shutout frames in Colorado's 7-3 home triumph on May 26.

That contest is part of a run of 26 consecutive scoreless innings for the Rockies' ace, a streak he extended by tossing a four-hit shutout to outduel two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum this past Monday in San Francisco. Jimenez struck out nine Giants hitters that day in his latest masterpiece.

Jimenez, who boasts a 0.52 ERA and has limited the opposition to a .141 average on the road this year, owns a 4-2 record with a 2.17 ERA in 10 lifetime starts against Arizona.

The Rockies will be counting on their stopper to salvage the finale of this series and halt a three-game losing streak for the club. After blowing a ninth-inning lead in a 7-6 setback to the Diamondbacks on Friday, Colorado's bats were stymied by a rejuvenated Dontrelle Willis as Arizona held on for a 4-3 decision last night.

Willis, acquired from Detroit on Tuesday after two-plus trying seasons with the Tigers, allowed five hits and worked around four walks over six shutout innings in an outstanding Diamondbacks debut. The 2003 NL Rookie of the Year also helped his cause at the plate, singling in the third inning and scoring the game's first run on a base hit by Stephen Drew.

"It was good, we battled and I made some pitches when I had to, and we came out with the victory," Willis said afterward. "So it's one series win, it's a good stepping-stone. We just have to keep building off of our momentum and go from there."

Arizona had lost a season-high 10 straight games before Friday's victory. Ryan Roberts, who came through with the game-winning single in the opener, delivered a key two-RBI pinch-hit double during a three-run sixth that staked the Diamondbacks to a 4-0 advantage.

Colorado stormed back with three runs off reliever Carlos Rosa in the seventh, but Aaron Heilman and Chad Qualls held the Rockies scoreless over the final 2 1/3 frames to preserve the one-run edge.

The Rockies went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 men on base for the game.

"We did a tremendous job to get back into the game and put ourselves in a position to win," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "The unfortunate thing is the game boils down to this - offensively 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. That's simply what it boils down to."

Arizona, which hasn't swept the Rockies since September 26-28, 2008, evened the season series at four games apiece with Saturday's verdict. Colorado has prevailed in 10 of the last 15 encounters between the teams, however.

Rodrigo Lopez draws the unenviable task of matching up against Jimenez this afternoon. The journeyman hurler wasn't up to the challenge in that May 26 outing, surrendering four runs in six innings to receive the loss, but did pitch rather well at Dodger Stadium this past Monday. Lopez worked a season- best eight innings against Los Angeles and was reached for four runs, two of which were unearned, on six hits while not recording a decision.

The 34-year-old, who made 14 starts for the Rockies during the 2007 season, has done a serviceable job since cracking the Arizona rotation as a non-roster invitee during spring training. In 11 appearances with the Diamondbacks, Lopez has gone 2-3 with a 4.31 ERA and lasted six or more innings nine times.


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